National Trails Day This Saturday: Make Your Plans

May 28, 2013 in Other

Click to find a National Trails Day event near you. As you can see, lots of events are planned.

Click to find a National Trails Day event near you.
As you can see, lots of events are planned.

This Saturday marks the 21st anniversary of National Trails Day (NTD) – which is reason enough to get into the great outdoors. Last year, over 157,000 people participated in 2,000+ events on NTD – including the trail maintenance group we joined at Barfield Crescent Park in Murfreesboro.

Quick on the heels of last weekend’s unofficial Memorial Day summer kickoff, National Trails Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of June. The American Hiking Society (AHS) works hard to provide a variety of activities every year on NTD. This year events range from  ”hikes, biking and horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, geocaching, gear demonstrations, stewardship projects and more.”

It’s a great day to get out and meet fellow nature lovers. If you’re new to hiking, there are lots of guided introductory hikes and if you’re a long-time hiker this is a great opportunity to volunteer for a day of trail maintenance work. Let us know what events you’ll be joining and we’ll report back next week on our first NTD with a baby in tow!

Find an event for National Trails Day now — and as the folks at AHS say, “Hike. Bike. Paddle. Ride. Get Outside.”



Couchville Lake Trail at Long Hunter State Park

April 22, 2013 in Tennessee Hiking Trails

Couchville Lake Trail

Couchville Lake Trail

Springtime has finally arrived and it’s time to get back on the trails. This was our first time “hiking” since little E was born in January, so we chose Couchville Lake Trail at Long Hunter State Park, a quick and easy hiking trail just outside of Nashville.

  1. Scenery:  2.0
  2. Difficulty:  0
  3. Length:  2.0 miles
  4. Dog Friendly Factor: 0
  5. Convenience:  5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 3.0

Trail Map:


Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 4.26.26 PM

Lots of quiet spots for fishing or just relaxing along the paved trail at Couchville Lake.

Scenery (2.0 out of 5.0): Couchville Lake Trail makes for a nice, if uneventful, day out in nature. The terrain is completely flat and paved – a bonus if you’re carting a long a stroller (as we saw quite a few folks doing). The trail loops through Tennessee’s first state-certified arboretum in a State Park and there are markings along the paved path that identify different types of trees. This trail would make a good starting point for anyone interested in learning how to identify different tree types. Here’s a guide to identifying the trees along the Couchville Lake Trail.

There are some nice views of the small lake and quite a few places to stop and enjoy the quiet scenery, including benches and short fishing piers. The tall trees provide a great canopy for about 85% of the time on the trail… looking up at the tall trees and leaves was very entertaining for our little guy. This trail seemed to be a great intro for his entry into the outdoors :)

Difficulty (0 out of 5): This trail truly could not be any easier. The flat path is completely paved and well maintained, which kind of makes it a stretch to call this a “hike” but it is a nice spot for a walk in the woods. Cyclists and skaters are prohibited – basically anything with wheels (except strollers and wheelchairs) are prohibited, making it much more relaxing than some other busy trails in the area. We saw quite a few joggers – this is a great, easy spot for a short run.

The trailhead for the Lake Trail is very close to the Bryant Grove Trail. If you’d like to add some distance on to your hike, combine these two trails for a 10 trek.

Little E pondering Couchville Lake Trail.

Babies welcomed at Couchville Lake Trail, but not doggies.

Length: 2 miles

Dog Friendly Factor (0 out of 5.0): Dogs are prohibited at Couchville Lake Trail. There are several signs and the area is well patrolled by the park rangers, so it’s best to leave the pups at home for this day outdoors.

Convenience (5.0 out of 5.0): Couchville Lake is right next to Percy Priest Lake, making it a quick and easy trip. Entry to Couchville Lake area is well marked and just down the road from the Volunteer Day Loop trail.

Bonus Funtimes (3.5 out of 5.0): Bonus Funtimes is where Couchville Lake excels. There’s a pavillion for cookouts and parties, lots of great spots for fishing, a nice sized playground for the kiddos, the arboretum guide and small boats are available for rent during the summertime months.

Hiking While Pregnant – Tips for the Third Trimester

January 7, 2013 in Tips & Recommendations

Hiking while pregnant - 30 weeks

Hiking while pregnant – 30 weeks

Ahh, the third trimester… the pregnancy homestretch. Although depending on how you’re feeling it can either crawl or fly by. Our little fella will be joining us “on the outside” in the next week or two, so I thought this would be a good chance to recap what I learned about hiking while pregnant during the third trimester.

For me, some weeks flew by while others trudged along, which was reflected on how much we were able to get outdoors. Between the growing belly and uncooperative weather we didn’t get out on the trails as much as I had hoped during the third trimester, but we still managed to hit up quite a few trails… and learn a few good lessons in the process.

Third Trimester Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

  1. Wash, rinse, repeat. Pretty much everything from my posts about hiking while pregnant during the first trimester and during the the second trimester still applies… I was still active (much slower!), but the rapidly expanding belly required a few additional considerations for hiking while pregnant.
  2. Meet my new best friend: Trekking Poles. Ahh, trekking poles. I didn’t get a pair until the beginning of the third trimester and regretted not getting them earlier. Once I started using trekking poles I was able to keep up with Nate and the dogs at a much more comfortable pace.
    hiking while pregnant with trekking poles

    Hiking while 39 weeks pregnant with my new favorite gear: trekking poles.

    I’m not exactly sure of the particulars, but using the trekking poles reduced the pressure on my belly and virtually eliminated round ligament pains. Plus the reassurance of having the extra balancing support helped minimize my concern about trips or falls. My recommendation to anyone would be to pick up a pair of trekking poles early in the second trimester – you’ll get a lot of use out of them and it will make hiking while pregnant far more enjoyable.

  3. Shorter distances and flatlands. While the trekking poles certainly helped me to extend the distances that I was able to hike, third trimester hiking distances were a far cry from the first and second trimester. Ideally if we go hiking we’ll do a minimum of six miles… that definitely changed as the third trimester progressed. Hilly and rocky terrain was exchanged for smooth, flat trails and we slowly decreased our mileage down to about 2 miles for the last few hikes. The last few hikes have been very s-l-o-w going, but still worth the effort.

While it was kind of a bummer to skip over the more adventurous hikes, the refreshing feeling that came from simply being outdoors and stretching my legs during the third trimester provided a real boost to my energy – both physically and emotionally. I highly recommend getting out as much as you can… word on the street is that things change A LOT when the baby makes his arrival.

It’s been a great 9.75 months for both me and Nate and we can’t wait to share with you what we learn about parenting while getting out and about in nature.

So that’s my two cents worth. What’s been your experience being active and outdoorsy while pregnant?

Check out my experiences hiking while pregnant during the first trimester and as my belly grew and I kept hiking during the second trimester

2012 Top Trails

December 30, 2012 in Hiking Trails

Glass Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

Glass Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

2012 Top Trails

Who doesn’t love a year-end recap? This year’s hikes took us farther and higher than ever before and gave us new challenges that wore us out, but gave us a great sense of pride. Here’s a recap of our favorite hikes of 2012 – not surprisingly the bulk of them came from our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, but there were also a few faves from Tennessee…

Favorite Trails of 2012

  1. Sky Pond and Glass Lake Trail - Once atop the waterfall climb, you’re greeted by a mini-valley of sorts that isn’t visible from the trail below. In just a few steps you’re at the edge of the Lake of Glass, another spot that offers stunning views.
  2. Alum Cave Trail on Mt. Leconte - With an elevation change just shy of 3,000′ in 5.5 miles (one way), this trail left us worn out and weary, but with a great sense of accomplishment. The difficulty of this trail is not just the distance, but the elevation change and occasionally tricky footing.
  3. Grays Peak - Nothing beats the view from the summit of a mountain… especially one that provides so many sweeping panoramic scenes…
  4. Emerald Lake Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park - The steep vertical cliffs of the surrounding mountains and huge boulders that surround the lakeside are striking against the clear waters of Emerald Lake.
  5. Cummins Falls Trails - As the state’s 8th largest waterfall by volume, Cummins Falls is a dramatic and inspiring sight. While the overlook provides a decent view of the falls, it pales in comparison to the view from the base.

Top Posts of 2012

  1. Alum Cave Trail on Mt. Leconte
  2. Cummins Falls Trails
  3. Western Rim Trail at Cloudland Canyon SP
  4. Abrams Falls at Smoky Mountain National Park
  5. Sky Pond and Glass Lake Trail


3 Hikes for Thanksgiving Weekend

November 21, 2012 in Tennessee Hiking Trails

Thanksgiving Hiking Hounds

Thanksgiving is for the dogs.

My personal favorite holiday is almost upon us (which means I’ve got to get to cookin’…). We hope you all enjoy a great Thanksgiving with family, friends and full bellies! Among dozens of other things, we’re thankful for the opportunity to get outdoors and share our stories with all of you. Thank you for your ongoing support!

If you’re looking for a good alternative to the frenzy of Black Friday shopping (ugh!), here’s our recommendations trails to hit up after you’ve done your best to conquer the Thanksgiving feast.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!